The digestive system potentially has more than one type of evidence that it can provide an investigator. The rate at which digestive material moves from the stomach into the small intestine can suggest something about the time of death relative to the time of the last meal. This issue was the subject of a previous blog entry that considered the Knox/Sollecito case. We will start with a relatively recent addition to the literature on stomach contents and time of death, and then examine individual cases, most of which come from older literature.
In the David Hendricks case, Mr. Hendricks’ wife and three children were killed. Fragments of vegetables were found in their stomachs. One expert put the time of death at 2-4 hours after the consumption of pizza, the known last meal, and two put it at 1-3 hours. Mr. Hendricks left his house on a trip 4.5 to 5.5 hours after the meal.